Interestsofajaneaustengirl proudly presents; “Came a flight gently” book III in Leigh Dreyer’s modern P&P variation. It is nearly 3 years since I wrote my review on book I, and I was vastly pleased to be approached by Leigh again to read and review her third and last book in her modern series of P&P.
As I opened the cover of Leigh’s third book in the series, I knew I was at Pemberley, and still I got the feeling of a Wine Chatéau in California, even if I was at the other end of the country, near New York City. It was nice to be back with Darcy, Lizzie, Georgie, the Fitzwilliams and the Bennets. Though I had to get used to the modern setting for a while, it was still delightful to be back with the familiar cast of characters Leigh had written in the first and second book. As I delved into the book, I instantly knew where book two had left me, and it was easy to find the rhythm of the book and good to see Elizabeth settle at Pemberley, and start to learn the ropes of the Darcy family firm, Pemberley Wines. Mrs Reynolds was a godsend and quite a side character, in this the final instalment of the series, and even she had a happy ending in store.
But as the book continued, I knew that Elizabeth wanted to fly again, and boy did she get flying! Darcy bought her a small plane and their mechanic Steve Weston, and yeah, I do mean THAT Weston helped her to get her wings. Leigh used several very familiar characters, for the board of Pemberley Wines, several of them are non-friendlies to Elizabeth. Just a hint, think of Austen’s other books and non-friendly characters. But also many new friends appear, maybe even a special meeting for Elizabeth appears halfway through.
Soon both Darcy’s are flying all over America, and several Fitzwilliam’s, De Bough’s, Bingley’s and Bennet’s appear inside the story and makes both trouble, and delight for our beloved couple. Georgiana also makes an appearance in the book, before she starts her music education at Juilliard’s in New York – soon Elizabeth learns of racing in smaller flights in Reno and let’s say it; YEAH she gets to fly, race and win. Though the open-ended ending nearly made me scream out in frustration, it ended how it was supposed to, – with the future still ahead of our beloved couple.
Leigh’s descriptions and experience stand her in good stead through her three books, both in the military works, Texas looks and feels, and how the Bennet family would be in the modern world of a small town in Texas. I also think that Leigh has drawn on her own experiences with moving around due to postings. This three-book series has captured my heart through her heartwarming way of writing, and her witty conversation between her characters. I can only congratulate Leigh on an ending well done!
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 5!
“How’d you find this place?” he asked as he sat down with a cup of coffee.
“Mrs. Reynolds sent me down.”
“I don’t need any help. I’m fifty-nine, not seventy-nine, for heaven’s sake. I can handle the airplane.”
Elizabeth stifled a smile with her cup. “Maybe she thought with two you’d like an assistant.”
“We’ve had two planes before. When Will and Richard were learning to fly, we had a Citabria and the Bonanza. Mr. Darcy and I taught them. Will’s become a great little pilot, though I shouldn’t let him hear me call him little.” Chuckling, the mechanic continued. “No, not Mr. F-22 fighter pilot.” He straightened himself. “Of course, it’s not an A-10. Now, I think he just got done flying ‘38s.”
“Did you fly in the service?” Elizabeth asked, taking a sip.
“Yep, F-111s, two tours, T-37s in between, A-10s and T-38A and Cs. Around forty-three hundred hours. But what I’m most proud of is over two thousand instructor hours.”
“How’d you become a mechanic?”
“Retired from the service. Got into some financial trouble with my ex-wife. Mr. Darcy, Will’s dad, hired me as an assistant mechanic. I apprenticed for a year, then took over when the other retired.” He looked at her over his glasses. “You aren’t in trouble, are you?”
“No, no.” Elizabeth laughed.
“By the way, I’m Steve Weston,” he said, reaching out his hand.
“Elizabeth Ben—I mean—Elizabeth Darcy.”
“You one of their cousins or something?”
“Or something,” answered Elizabeth, not wanting to ruin the moment.
“Well, hot chocolate’s done. The salt’s probably worked so we have no excuse.”
They donned their gloves again and went back to the doors. The salt had worked and the ice on the doors only required a little persuasion with the sledgehammer. Elizabeth felt a thrill run through her with the physical labor and banging the ice off the door. It’s been too long since I’ve felt useful. After several minutes of work, the large doors creaked open, filling the warmer hangar with cold air.
“We need to work quick,” Mr. Weston called loudly to her from the other side of the hangar. “The block was heated, and it’s been in the hangar, but we need to get the runup done before it cools.”
The aircraft positioned and chocked, Mr. Weston opened the back door and started the engine to let it warm and cycle the propeller. Once shut down, he motioned over to Elizabeth and showed her where to look for leaks. When they found none, they closed the hangar doors and turned up the heater. It was six when they got all the covers put on the plane and it was ready to fly again another day.
“What can you tell me about the Lancair?” she asked, pointing to the candy apple red plane next to Darcy’s Bonanza.
“Not much,” Mr. Weston said as he filed various tools away into their places. “A friend of mine flew it in for Will a couple weeks ago on a ferry permit. The builder did a good job but didn’t fly it. I’ve got the paperwork and books on it. I’ve got to do a condition check and go through all the systems. It’ll take about two months. It has better technology than the Bonanza, well at least newer, composite fuselage, fuel injection. Updated glass cockpit inside. Comfortable, stable, fast, but you have to pay attention more than a 172. You got any time?”
She let her hand glide along the smooth painted wing as she listened. “I’ve my private license and about seventy hours in the T-6.”
“Tailwheel time, eh?”
“Uh, no. The new T-6. I was in the Air Force.”
She shifted uncomfortably as he examined at her. She could practically see the questions running through his mind, though he had not paused his work.
“Yeah, I had a mishap and was medically retired.”
“Hmm, you’ll have to tell me about it sometime. I worked as a safety for a bit, so I enjoy hearing about those things.”
After a pause, Elizabeth summoned the courage to ask: “Mr. Weston, do you still teach?”
“Flying or mechanics?”
“Flying is what I’m most interested in at the moment. I think I would like to get my commercial and become a CFI.”
“Can you afford it? The 172 down the road rents for a hundred and fifty dollars an hour.”
“I think so—my husband has a pretty good gig, and he’s a pilot, too, so I’m sure he’ll be supportive.”
“You’re young. How long have you been married?”
“Almost four months.”
“It will take some time away from him.”
“I think he’ll be okay with it.”
“Huh, let me check with the boss. I don’t think he’d be upset. He just moved back so hopefully no more random trips across the country. Though, with more consistent flying, he might need me around a little more often than in the past.”
“How much will you charge to instruct?” Mr. Weston laughed, a jolly sort of chuckle that Elizabeth found appealing, contrasting his initial porcupine-like personality. He seemed a teddy bear sort of person, one who was initially gruff, but quite warm once he welcomed you to his circle of trust.
“You live near here?”
A smile crossed her face, and she said, “Pretty close.”
“How about you come clean and sweep the hangar, help me with the aircraft, and bring me donuts once a week?”
As she reached out her hand to make the deal, an artic blast came whooshing through the door. Both of them yelled, “Come in or go out, but shut the door!” Shaking hands, they grinned at each other.
“All right. I’ll get it!” They heard as the door slammed shut.
Will Darcy stepped into the hangar. He looked between Elizabeth and Mr. Weston and gave a half-smile.
“Hello, Mr. Weston. How’s the Bonanza?”
“She’s great. Fresh oil. Run up and leak check done. Ready to go again. You put twenty-five hours on her in two months. She’s not flown that much since your dad flew her on business.”
“I know, it got busy there for a while.”
“Will, Mrs. Reynolds sent Elizabeth down for some work.”
Will raised an eyebrow at Elizabeth. “She did, did she? Mrs. Reynolds does a good job making sure everyone stays busy and has the help they need.” Darcy bowed to Elizabeth. “Hello, madam. Captain William Darcy at your service.”
“Pleasure to make your acquaintance, kind sir.” Elizabeth held Will’s outstretched hand and curtsied. Neither could keep a straight face and burst out laughing.
Steve Weston looked confused.
“Mr. Weston, may I introduce my husband, Captain William Darcy.” She elbowed Darcy, teasing him about their courtly introduction.
Mr. Weston shook his head and narrowed his eyes at her. “Cousin or something—you had me going. Why didn’t you say something? Oh no. And I had you chopping ice, grabbing tools—”
Elizabeth interrupted. “I was having such a good time, doing something, learning something, I didn’t want to spoil it.”
“I should have thought to introduce both of you before now,” said Darcy. “Mr. Weston was on the board until a few years ago when his son, Frank, took his place.”
Weston smiled sheepishly. “I’ll teach you anytime you want after the thaw, and you’re welcome to stop by anytime to learn something.”
Elizabeth grinned. “I hope our deal’s still on then. I’ll bring the donuts! When do you want me here?”
Leigh Dreyer is a huge fan of Jane Austen variations and the JAFF community. She is blessed to have multi-generational military connections through herself and her husband, who she met in pilot training. She often describes her formative years in this way: “You know the ‘Great Balls of Fire’ scene in Top Gun (Goose, you big stud!) when Goose and Meg Ryan have their kid on the piano? I was that kid.” Leigh lives with her pilot husband, a plane-obsessed son, a daughter who was a pink pilot for Halloween, and a one-year-old son who is so used to F-16 noise, he does not even startle to sonic booms.
Paul Trockner was an Air Force fighter pilot for twenty-eight years. He flew the F-111, T-37, A-10, and T-38. He currently teaches fighter pilots using simulator instruction. He has been happily married for thirty-six years to his lovely wife Elizabeth. Leigh is the oldest of his five children.
Hello all, now again from my desk comes a presentation of a new book. This book is from yet another returning author; Riana Everly. In the passing months, Riana has been writing murder mysteries within the world of Austen. The first was, “The death of a clergyman.” which is still waiting on my desk, alongside several others. pulls an embarrassed face This time it is Highbury’s turn to have a murder, and luckily, Mary is on hand to investigate.
When political chaos in London forces Mary Bennet to take refuge in the picturesque town of Highbury, Surrey, she quickly finds herself safe among friends. Emma Woodhouse welcomes her as a guest at Hartfield, Jane Fairfax is delighted by her love of music, and Frank Churchill can’t stop flirting with her. But it is not long before Mary starts to suspect that beneath the charming surface, Highbury hides some dark secrets.
Alexander Lyons is sent to Surrey on an investigation, and at his friend Darcy’s request, heads to Highbury to make certain Mary is comfortable and safe. But no sooner does he arrive than one local man dies, and then another!
Soon Alexander and Mary are thrust into the middle of a baffling series of deaths. Are they accidents? Or is there a very clever murderer hiding in their midst? And can they put their personal differences aside in time to prevent yet another death in Highbury?
Piano Music in history;
Riana and I have several interests in common, one of them is Music, so Riana has written about music, and piano duets especially, which is also a common element in this book. I will leave you all in Riana’s capable musical hands. Welcome back, Riana!
Thanks so much, Sophia, for letting me visit your lovely blog today. I always enjoy stopping by here to chat about what I’m up to and what I’ve been writing. Today I want to talk a bit about my newest release, Death in Highbury: An Emma Mystery, and more specifically, piano duets.
How does an Austen-inspired mystery relate to piano duets? Let me explain. In the first mystery in this series, Mary Bennet stayed at home to solve the mystery of her cousin Mr. Collins’ death. Now, in her second adventure, she is in Highbury, Surrey, the setting for Jane Austen’s Emma.
Mary stays with Emma Woodhouse, and soon meets the rest of Highbury society, including Jane Fairfax. Jane is a gifted musician and has recently been given a fine pianoforte, and when she learns that Mary plays as well, Jane invites Mary over to play duets with her.
The first known duets for two people at one keyboard date from around 1600, but the musical form did not become popular until the late 18th century. For one thing, the close physical proximity of the players was deemed to be inappropriate, and for another, women’s wide skirts made sitting next to each other a challenge. But young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and his sister played duets in public in London in 1764-5, and later wrote four sonatas for one piano, four hands.
But the piano duet wasn’t just for performing musicians. Before the age of audio recording, the only way to hear music was either to go to a concert or to play it yourself at home. Arrangements of popular songs were often found in people’s personal sheet music collections, and arrangements of grander pieces, like symphonies, were also sought after. Music was widely performed at home by both serious proficient pianists and competent amateurs.
So what would Mary and Jane Fairfax have played? They might have sat down to work through the Mozart sonatas. They also might have played through Muzio Clementi’s sonatas. Clementi (1752-1832) was an Italian-born composer who lived much of his life in England. Although his fame reached far beyond England’s borders during his lifetime, his popularity has waned a bit over the last 100 years or so. Still, his music is always melodic and charming and most young piano students have played his sonatinas.
Here is his Sonata No.2 in C major for piano duet.
And here is the first page of Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano Four Hands, Op. 6 (1796-97). If you play at all, you can how this is approachable for a competent amateur. It does get more difficult, but it’s certainly something Mary and Jane could play with enjoyment for both themselves and anyone listening.
I personally think this sounds fascinating, since I do not play, I am more of a writer and singer myself. But I have grown up in a classical home, so I grew up on Mozart, Vivaldi and a mix of Disney and other children genre music, later on in my teens and early twenties Beethoven, Mozart, John Williams, Silvestri, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky and several others, became the most listened to genre for me, and I do enjoy it and I personally love music.
They had arrived at the top of the stairs and Emma gave a sharp knock at the door, which was answered almost at once. The small party was invited in by the serving girl and led through a very small vestibule to a cosy sitting room, made even cosier by the presence of an imposing pianoforte that occupied much of the room. It was a beautiful instrument, quite incongruous in this small and unprepossessing space.
The room, to Mary’s surprise, was quite full of company. Mrs. Bates sat at her knitting by the window, where the light was best, and Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax had risen from their seats at a small table near the quiet dark fireplace, in the company of none other than Frank Churchill! Once more, Mary observed the flitter of glances between Miss Woodhouse, Mr. Knightley, Miss Fairfax, and Mr. Churchill, that told of a tale far more complicated and involved than any of the parties to it seemed to acknowledge. In contrast, Harriet Smith’s expression was wistful and innocent, and she seemed quite apart in so many ways from the subtle undercurrents that suffused the small parlour.
Sounding embarrassed to break the moment of silence that ensued, Harriet handed the basket to Miss Bates. “Mrs. Goddard had extra food, some pies and preserves, and hoped you might help us by taking them before they turn.”
“How very kind, so obliging!” Miss Bates turned her nervous smile on the young visitor. “Yes, very kind indeed! Mother has been at her baking today, for all that she enjoys the activity so much, even if it is not what ladies ought to do, but it is a source of pleasure for her. Mr. and Mrs. Elton were by, so good of them to visit and talk of poor Mr. Abdy. I knew him when he worked for Father, of course, although that was many years ago and I had not spoken to him much after Father died and he went to live with his sons, but Mother was not able to go to the kitchens to bake. So kind of Mrs. Goddard to think of us. Let us see… oh, fruit tarts! Lovely. So lovely. Perhaps we can set them out with tea. Tea! Yes, please, let me see about calling for tea.”
“Miss Bennet,” Frank Churchill turned his smile upon her once more. “I could not keep myself away from the joy of hearing you at the keyboard. I do hope you do not mind. I have been helping Miss Fairfax sort through her music. Here is a set of marches by Mr. Beethoven, or this by Mr. Kozeluch, or look here, some sonatas by Mr. Mozart. Ladies, I rely on you to tell me which to set out.”
The morning passed quickly; Mary enjoyed Miss Fairfax’s quiet company and strove to match the other’s considerable skill at the keyboard, and the musical results were not unpleasing. The clock chimed noon, and then one, and at last, having played many notes and consumed several pieces of fruitcake and lavender biscuits, Mary and the rest of the party from Hartfield took their leave.
“Thank you, Miss Bennet, for lending me your skills,” Miss Fairfax said as they departed. “I would be very pleased should you wish to return tomorrow if you have time before the ball, or the day after.”
This pleased Mary. “If I am still in town, the pleasure would be my own.” She dropped a curtsey to her hosts and thanked Miss Bates and Mrs. Bates and followed her new friends down the stairs to the street.
Now, time for the giveaway!! Yay!
I am giving away five eBooks worldwide over the course of this blog tour, chosen randomly from people who enter. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter link or widget. If you don’t like Rafflecopter, you can still enter. Just send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) saying so, and I’ll add your name to the list for the draw. The giveaway will close at 12am EST on February 27, 2021.
Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
So, that is it for this time around! I am working or reading as fast as possible through several books still, but I do promise at some point, I hope soon I will present my reviews for Riana’s two murder mysteries, and a few others. So, therefore for now, I will say, see you soon, dear readers.
This time around, I am visited, by another returning author, Heather Moll and her newest book; “The Nine Ladies.” When I got my hands on the book, and read the prologue, my first thought was “OMG OUTLANDER!” But as I wrote to Heather, she promised me that nowhere in the book, would appear a horrible Jack Black Randall, so relieved.
The book takes place in Derbyshire, at our beloved Pemberley, in this new variation, the caretakers at Pemberley are very aware that they are guarding something special on the grounds, an ancient stone circle, called, The Nine Ladies. I do wonder who will appear in the stone circle…?
Nine Ladies blurb
The Darcy family has grudgingly kept the secret about the power contained within a nearby stone circle called Nine Ladies. Fitzwilliam Darcy is forced to contend with this secret when a young woman from the future appears at Pemberley. Until the opinionated stranger can return to when she belongs, Darcy is responsible not only for her safety, but also for ensuring that nothing she does threatens Pemberley’s well-being.
Elizabeth Bennet has returned to England to take care of her estranged father, and her life was off track long before she walked into that stone circle at sunset. She quickly discovers that, as a poor and single woman, she’ll have to rely on the arrogant Mr. Darcy. She tries her best to survive in the nineteenth-century until she can return home but, as she and Darcy grow closer, the truth she knows about his and Pemberley’s bleak future becomes harder to keep.
How can Darcy and Elizabeth overcome 200 years of differences in this era-spanning love story?
I will allow Heather to present her book, and also give you a very interesting excerpt of the book.
Hello Sophia! I’m excited to be back at Interests of a Jane Austen Girl. I’m here today to share with you an excerpt from my latest release Nine Ladies. Nine Ladies is a real stone circle in Derbyshire, and in the book, it has the power to transport anyone who stands in the centre on an equinox back in time 200 years and forwards a solstice. Modern Elizabeth Bennet has accidentally found herself in 1811 and Darcy is none too happy about it. For the next three months, he has to hide—in his house—an outspoken, argumentative woman who would rather wear trousers. Poor guy, right? In this excerpt, Darcy has asked his cousin—one of the few people to know the time-travelling secret—to come to Pemberley to help him manage this disaster.
EXCERPT from “Nine Ladies”
“It is in every way horrible!”
“You are not about to cry, are you, Darcy? I do not love you enough to console you should you cry like a little girl.”
“When a gentleman’s livelihood and respectability are threatened by fractures in time and a strange being that can scarcely be credited as a member of her sex, he has every right to be on the verge of weeping!”
Darcy slumped in a chair, his cousin seated across from him.
“This woman must be a terror to behold.” Colonel Fitzwilliam rose to warm himself before the fire. “If it is impossible for her to be viewed as a woman, let alone a woman of our time, why am I here?”
Darcy raised his head from his hands. “To share the burden with me. Would you deny me that?”
“You are my closest friend; I would deny you nothing in my power to give.”
Darcy smiled, grateful for his loyalty. “This woman is not a terror. Were she any other stranger forced upon my notice, she would merely be a nuisance. But her presence might cost me dearly should the truth come out.”
“The previous visitors did not cause your father distress. Why would one woman ruin you?”
Darcy hauled himself from his chair with a sigh. “A man easily led and infirm from old age appeared at Nine Ladies before I was born, and the infant when I was teenaged. Neither one had the remotest influence on Pemberley. But with her, I must justify her presence and be vigilant that her behavior does not reflect negatively on my reputation. Let us not forget the catastrophic possibility that she admits to someone from whence she came.”
“Did she not give her word to participate in the deception? I thought this was partly her scheme.”
Darcy cleared his throat, embarrassed by how he was swayed when she proclaimed that twenty-first century women could be honorable. “She gave me a feeling of being able to trust her, and that, combined with my pity for her, provoked me to agree. Of course, any stranger among the family at Pemberley would be a destruction of all my comfort.”
“When shall my formidable introduction take place?”
“If anyone were to ask, she only today arrived on the mail coach. You ought to prepare yourself for something dreadful when she speaks.”
His cousin laughed. “You are too fastidious! How do you mean?”
“Miss Bennet’s voice is peculiar. She uses an astonishing number of contracted words for an educated woman. When she says don’t and want, the t disappears. With other words, the t is pronounced like a d. And I cannot begin to describe the words she used that do not exist.”
“Is English not her primary language? Where did she say she was from?”
Darcy stared. “Two thousand and eleven.”
Fitzwilliam laughed again. “I must meet this fearsome creature! Will Reynolds bring her to the drawing room this evening?”
“I ought to not meet with her too soon. She may be represented here as a daughter of a gentleman, but she is beneath me in consequence, and poor and unconnected.”
“It would be at odds with your sense of generosity to treat her as an interloper for three months. I can stay with you a week without raising my father’s suspicions; he expects me at Easter. If you want my assistance to acquaint her with what is expected, we ought to begin immediately.”
The door opened, and both gentlemen turned, surprised upon seeing a woman, simply but tastefully dressed, enter. She wore a bonnet and pelisse, and held her gloves. Upon seeing them, the woman stopped short, but she neither spoke nor moved. Reynolds must be giving a tour and lost one of her charges. “A tourist?” Darcy whispered before turning away.
“May I help you, madam?” Fitzwilliam asked.
“I, yes, um, sorry for interrupting. I wanted to see the clock in the library, but I entered the wrong room.”
Darcy spun from the window and looked at her in amazement. “Miss Bennet?”
Fitzwilliam’s pocket watch slipped through his fingers as he stared, and she gave an inelegant curtsey. “Hel—good afternoon. Like I said, I only wished to know the time, but I am interrupting. I’m just, um, going to . . . go now.”
“You are not a tourist? You, you are the visitor from Nine Ladies?” Fitzwilliam looked at Darcy with a question on his lips, but thought better of it and gave Miss Bennet a charismatic grin.
Miss Bennet bestowed upon his cousin a smile nothing short of luminous as she removed her bonnet. “You might say I am a tourist after all.”
Darcy stared in shock; his cousin joined in her laughter. “I daresay you have traveled farther than anyone in all of England! Darcy, will you not introduce me to your witty guest?”
How was this the bold woman in trousers who had assaulted his sensibilities three days ago?
When I read this scene, I simply laughed all the way through, I simply couldn’t help it, Darcy is a little overdramatic in his speech to Richard! *laughs a little* Thank you for introducing your lovely time-travel book, Heather, we are all looking forward to seeing where this drama goes and if a modern woman and a man from the past can bend all the expectations and fall in love.
Heather Moll is an avid reader of mysteries and biographies with a masters in information science. She found Jane Austen later than she should have and made up for lost time by devouring her letters and unpublished works, joining JASNA, and spending too much time researching the Regency era. She is the author of Nine Ladies,Two More Days at Netherfield, and His Choice of a Wife. She lives with her husband and son and struggles to balance all of the important things, like whether or not to buy groceries or stay home and write. Visit her blog and subscribe to her newsletter for a freebie and monthly updates.
So, that’s it for this time around, but check back in with me in a few days, where the Third book in the “Flight” P&P series from Leigh Dreyer is reviewed and presented. Good luck in the giveaway, and I am still reading this rather amazing book, so no spoilers for the endings, guys *winks* See you soon!
Yes, I am finally back! Christmas and New Years have passed, and now the year is 2021! Imagine that! I remember as a small child, when the year turned to 2000, and how people were deathly afraid of the world ending. But I am catching up with all the reviews, which is overdue. But I could not help but say yes to yet another book, from my dear friend, Janet Taylor. So here I will present the next book by C. P. Odom; Determination.
“Love at first sight” is a laughable concept in the considered opinion of Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam and never occurs in real life—certainly not in the life of an experienced soldier. In fact, until he observes the smitten nature of his cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy, he doubts that fervent love truly exists. Marriage, after all, is a matter of money, social standing, and property.
But his cousin becomes besotted with Elizabeth Bennet, the lovely but penniless daughter of a Hertfordshire gentleman, and is determined to make her his wife. Unfortunately, emotions overwhelm his good judgment, and he botches an offer of marriage.
When the colonel attempts to untangle the mess, his own world becomes almost as chaotic when he makes the accidental acquaintance of Miss Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s beloved elder sister. Can emotions previously deemed impossible truly seize such a level-headed person as himself? And can impassible obstacles deter a man of true determination?
As several of C. P. Odom’s books, it starts at the parsonage in Kent when Darcy is due to make his proposal to Elizabeth. This time around, it is Col. Fitzwilliam who interrupts the toe-curling proposal. Col. Fitzwilliam steps in and offers Elizabeth the details of Wickham and their story.
I was a little annoyed with Elizabeth and the stupidity of her stubbornness. But as soon as the story is out, Lizzie starts to make better decisions for a time.
The first time Col. Fitzwilliam and Jane set eyes on each other it is coup de foudre for them both. I was quite surprised since Jane and Bingley are the most typical couple in JAFF, but now since Bingley had abandoned Jane several months before, I can’t help but admit to rooting for Col. Fitzwilliam. The new couple of Jane and Col. Fitzwilliam made me smile, Richard aka Col. Fitzwilliam was himself; bold, honest and straightforward.
I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the book and recognised Colin’s way of writing immediately, and was more or less hooked within two pages! And that is quite a record!
I am always pleased to read an author, who works with other characters besides Darcy and Elizabeth. This time, Colin worked with the serene Jane and bold Col. Fitzwilliam, and what an improvement in Jane, Colin managed! I applauded several times!
When Bingley, finally, returned to the plot, all I could do was shake my head at Bingley’s irrational behaviour. As if he could waltz back in after several months of inaction, and then reclaim the affections of Jane after he abandons Jane without a word. I shook my head at his stupid behaviour, and then he acts as if nothing has happened since the Netherfield Ball. *shakes head* I couldn’t help but cheer when Jane told him the state of affairs, and I seriously mean I applauded loudly. I believe Jane and Col. Fitzwilliam just became one of my favourite JAFF couples, next to Darcy and Elizabeth.
Colin also managed to write quite a few daring, and some call them, distasteful romantic scenes, where our favourite couples end up in some intimate situations with each other. Though when I read these romantic scenes, I felt they fit in well with the plot. Especially when one takes into consideration, the way young ladies was brought up and sheltered. Therefore, in my opinion, it is not that weird that Jane suddenly experiences the lust and excitement of being in her lover’s arms.
The couple I was more surprised at was Darcy and Elizabeth! I must admit to my jaw hanging wide open in shock! I had certainly not seen that coming, okay maybe several passionate kisses but what happened, Nope. But again, I felt it fit in well, even if it was a little weird to see our straightlaced Darcy lose his senses quite that bad, but when you think about it, it was to Elizabeth, and how long the poor man had been in love with her, it was quite a surprise he lasted that long.
And the ending you may ask about, I will leave you right here, and say, read the book! It is worth it! I am certainly looking forward to hearing this in audio in the coming year, and more books from C.P. Odom.
Colin have been kind enough to allow us a peek into the book, so here I will leave you to “Determination” ch13.
She walks in beauty, Like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes.
Saturday, May 9, 1812 Netherfield, Hertfordshire
Darcy was just preparing to mount his horse when his cousin cantered into the stable yard at Netherfield. He was in full uniform as Darcy had expected, including that incredibly ugly headgear of which the Sixth Dragoons were so proud. He personally thought it belonged to the days before knights attired themselves in metal to provide a modicum of protection on the battlefield. Good, solid iron seemed a much better idea to turn an enemy sabre than horsehair, in his opinion. But it was not his area of expertise, so he kept his silence on that topic and restrained himself to greeting his cousin.
“Good morning, Richard,” he said as he swung easily into the saddle while Richard pulled his horse to a halt beside him. “Nervous?”
He thought his cousin looked at him a bit oddly at the remark, but his voice was calm as he replied, “Of course. And you?”
Darcy gave an uncomfortable shrug. “More than I care to admit. I am a bit surprised to hear you admit to feeling what I am feeling at the moment. I do not really have any idea what to expect this morning.”
“When I first visited Jane, my stomach was churning to such an extent that I wanted to turn around and return home. I told myself such feelings were ridiculous and not worthy of a man of my experience and character.”
“And did that help?”
“Of course not.”
Both cousins had to laugh at this statement that so accurately described their own situation at the moment.
“I was thinking last night that Elizabeth and I have not had any real conversations before today. It was all the contrived small talk that passes for polite discourse—sounds that carry no real information or meaning.”
“I am somewhat better off than that. Jane is so amiable that we did not have to go through a process of subterfuge and evasion before we just began…well, talking.”
“Yes, exactly,” Darcy said worriedly. “That is all I have experience with myself—”
“Except in private, at home with good friends and relatives,” Richard interrupted. “That is how you should talk to Miss Elizabeth. As a good friend and hopefully a future relative.”
Darcy gave this some thought before nodding. “Good advice, Cousin. Very good advice. I hope I can follow it. How was your evening at the inn in Meryton?”
“It was adequate. Clean, at least, though the bed was rather uncomfortable. But perhaps that was because I was tossing and turning so much.”
That brought another laugh of shared emotions, and they turned their horses towards the road.
“Have you had any response from Bingley to your express,” Richard asked. He was uncomfortable asking it, but he really wanted to know whether the other man was going to suddenly appear and try to repair his transgressions against Jane.
“No, but I did not expect one. An express rider is faster than the post, but I would be vastly surprised if he received it before Wednesday. He will likely send one if he decides not to come, but I would not expect to receive it before Monday or Tuesday.”
“But he could arrive by coach sooner than that, correct?”
“Yes, though it would take a miracle if he arrived sooner than late Saturday evening. Sunday is more likely, and even Monday might be believable. The rains can make travel difficult at this time of year.”
“Saturday or Sunday. Well, that is why I did not accept your invitation to stay at Netherfield with you.”
“Well, at least the inn is clean,” Darcy said benignly, which drew a snort of laughter from his cousin.
Saturday, May 9, 1812 Longbourn, Hertfordshire
In consequence of her husband’s refusal to call on Mr. Bingley, Mrs. Bennet lost no time on Saturday morning in assuming her prayers had been answered and in calling on her daughters to partake of her joy when she saw two gentlemen enter the paddock and ride towards the house.
Jane, however, resolutely kept her place at the small table in the parlour though Elizabeth could not stop herself from going to the window. She saw, as she expected, the colonel and Mr. Darcy riding towards the house, and she sat down beside her sister. Gravely, she gave Jane a nod and was pleased at the sudden joy that blossomed behind her sister’s eyes.
Obviously, Jane has not lost interest in Colonel Fitzwilliam, whatever happens with Mr. Bingley, thought Elizabeth with a degree of agitation. Mr. Bingley may come or he may not come, but the die is cast, and it is now up to those two men to attend Jane. But now my own affairs demand my attention. What will happen between me and Mr. Darcy? I do not feel at all welcoming, but he definitely did as I asked with respect to his friend. Is it possible that Colonel Fitzwilliam is right about his cousin? Have I been guilty of errors in judgement similar to his. Oh, my heart must be going hundreds of beats a minute!
“It is not Mr. Bingley, Mama,” she heard Kitty say excitedly, having replaced Elizabeth at the window. “And one of them is an officer.”
“Really?” exclaimed Lydia, who instantly joined her sister.
“What do you mean, it is not Mr. Bingley?” Mrs. Bennet asked in agitation. “It must be Mr. Bingley.”
“There is another man with the officer, Mama,” Kitty said, shading her eyes from the morning sun. “But he is definitely not Mr. Bingley.”
“But who can it be?” Mrs. Bennet cried in despair.
“La! It looks like that man who was Mr. Bingley’s friend,” Kitty said. “Mr. what’s-his-name. That tall, proud man.”
“Good gracious!” Mrs. Bennet exclaimed as she pushed Kitty aside to look out the window. “Mr. Darcy. Can it be him? It is him, I vow. But why does he come? And who is the man with him?”
“Look, Kitty,” exclaimed Lydia. “This officer is not in the militia. See? The uniform is different. The coat is a different red than the militia officers, and look at all the gold piping. Also, he is wearing one of those hats with the horse hair on top. Who can it be?”
“What does it matter?” Mrs. Bennet said crossly. “It is Mr. Darcy and not Mr. Bingley. Why is he visiting us? And who cares who his friend is? Even though Mr. Darcy was a friend of Mr. Bingley’s and any friend of Mr. Bingley’s will always be welcome here, still I must say I hate the very sight of him.”
“That is unfortunate, Mama,” Elizabeth said calmly, “since Mr. Darcy has come to call on me. But perhaps you should have Father refuse him entrance to the house since you object to him so greatly.” Jane looked at her in surprise, but she saw the saucy look in Elizabeth’s eye and realized she was teasing their mother.
“Mr. Darcy?” Mrs. Bennet said in shock. “Calling on you?”
“Yes, Mama. He was visiting his aunt Lady Catherine at Rosings when I was there. Later, in town, I gave him permission to call on me after I returned home.”
Jane hid a smile of admiration at the way her sister had told their mother the exact truth—and managed to conceal almost everything worthwhile!
Richard was amused by the continuing signs of unease exhibited by Darcy as the two of them drew up in front of Longbourn. Darcy had told him the house was rather modest, and that certainly seemed true from what he could see of the exterior. But Richard also noted that the structure and the grounds appeared to be in good repair and well tended. The staff also appeared alert, as exemplified by the two boys who raced over from the stables as he and Darcy walked their horses up the drive. Both boys appeared to be cheerful enough and readily accepted the reins along with instructions on the care of both animals.
The front door of the house was opened quickly to admit them, and they were shown in to the parlour and announced. Richard looked around as he entered the room, and he felt his heart jump when he saw Jane Bennet and discerned the shy look she gave him as she and her sisters made their curtseys.
Richard forced himself to look away as Elizabeth made the introductions. “Colonel Fitzwilliam, please allow me to introduce my mother, Mrs. Bennet. Jane you already know, of course, but these are my other sisters—Mary, Catherine, and Lydia. Mama, this is Mr. Darcy’s cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, the son of the Earl of Matlock. A younger son, as he so often avows.”
This last comment was made in Elizabeth’s wry tone of voice, and Richard smiled and nodded at her sally. He was amused by the incredulous and ecstatic expression Mrs. Bennet was trying to hide as she kept looking at Darcy. Judging from her complete lack of success, Richard guessed Elizabeth had not mentioned Darcy’s interest until just now.
“Mr. Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, you are both most welcome,” Mrs. Bennet bubbled after she and her daughters had curtseyed in acknowledgement of the gentlemen’s bows. She was quick to bid them to take a seat. Conspicuously, though she had just been informed of Darcy’s intention to call on her least favourite daughter, the chair next to Elizabeth had been left vacant. Darcy wasted no time in claiming that seat as Mrs. Bennet responded by beaming at him.
Then she turned to Fitzwilliam. “Colonel, there is a chair over here by my younger daughters…”
Mrs. Bennet’s face fell as she found that Richard was no longer standing where he had been. He had seated himself while she attended Darcy, and instead of sitting in the chair she had strategically placed between Kitty and Lydia, he had acquired one of the chairs she had moved to the corner of the room, and he had seated himself beside Jane.
“Oh, I am sorry, Mrs. Bennet,” Richard said smoothly, as he patted his leg, which he held straight out in front of him. “I felt an immediate need to sit where I can stretch my leg out. Old injury, you know. It stiffens up when I ride.”
After being informed of Darcy’s intention to visit Elizabeth, Mrs. Bennet’s attention was almost completely on him and only peripherally on his cousin. She had intended him only as company for her two youngest daughters, so her disappointment at the dexterity of Richard’s manoeuvre was not as great as that of Lydia and Kitty, who had been atwitter with anticipation at having an officer of such elevated rank at their disposal. But she tried to put on the best face she could.
“Certainly, certainly, my dear Colonel, you must take care of yourself, having been wounded in the service of the King. But Lydia and Kitty were…well…” Her words dribbled to a halt, and Richard saw Darcy and Elizabeth lean towards each other and exchange some inaudible, whispered comments.
“Did you say something, Lizzy?” Mrs. Bennet asked sharply.
“No, Mama, I was clearing my throat,” her daughter responded calmly. Richard was somewhat doubtful that Elizabeth was speaking the literal truth though her expression was perfectly placid. But he could see that Darcy was having difficulty suppressing a laugh, and Darcy was well acquainted with the origin and severity of Richard’s injury. He suspected Mrs. Bennet had her doubts also from the suspicion on her face, but the expression quickly vanished as he watched. He knew she had put her irritation aside in the exhilaration of her daughter’s astonishing opportunity with a gentleman of ten thousand a year.
Satisfied that Darcy and Elizabeth were well situated with Mrs. Bennet in fawning attendance, Richard was free to turn his attention to Jane.
“You are certainly looking well, Miss Bennet. I trust your trip home was not unduly fatiguing.”
“No trip can be fatiguing with Elizabeth along, Colonel. But we are both glad to be returned home. But tell me, sir, is this trouble with your leg a continuing problem, or are you newly injured? I could see no signs of it in town.”
Richard looked at her sharply and was delighted to see a spark of mischief in her eyes rather than the sadness that had been there when he first met her.
“I can see that little escapes your eye, Miss Bennet, and I admit myself fairly caught. I do indeed bear the scar of an old injury, but it occurred some years ago. And while it resulted from a battle of sorts and still hurts on occasion, it was not suffered in the service of the King. In fact, the circumstances are far too embarrassing for me to relate at this time.”
Jane looked at him speculatively but finally nodded. “Very well, then, I shall not press you, but I am not sure you have completely convinced my mother. She had every intention of placing you at the disposal of my younger sisters.”
Richard nodded wryly. “I did see that, but I confess Darcy provided a little warning. And he is not the only one who has managed to avoid being trapped by the London marriage mart these many years. Even the younger son of an earl must develop a flair for tactics and manoeuvres or else fall prey to a clever society mother.”
“Ah, I see. So you cleverly used your tactical skills to avoid the youngest Bennet sisters. Very well done, sir.”
Jane glanced over at Lydia and Kitty, who both still wore a look of disappointment as Richard continued. “But I did not avoid all the Bennet sisters, you know. I made sure I found a seat by the eldest and the most beautiful of all of them.”
Jane coloured at the flattering remark, but Richard was surprised to see she had not heard it with pleasure since she suddenly could not meet his eyes. “You are very kind, sir,” she said demurely, but Richard could tell her former cheerfulness had fled.
Undoubtedly, Bingley must have given her a similar compliment before he disappeared, Richard realised, and now I have innocently brought back those memories. She cannot help but wonder whether I shall prove to be as insincere as he was. Well, I had decided, even after Darcy agreed to write Bingley, that I would not slow my pursuit, and I shall not let this pass. It is never too early to draw further distinctions between that idiot and myself.
“Miss Bennet, please believe me when I tell you that I understand how you have been hurt.” Richard spoke in a quiet, serious voice that could not be overheard by Jane’s sisters. “It is not my intention to intrude into your private affairs, but the whole episode with your sister and my cousin has made me aware of relations between you and Mr. Bingley that I never would have learned otherwise. So I do understand, and I want you to know I do not make idle compliments, nor do I toy with a lady’s emotions. I meant neither more nor less than exactly what I have said…at this time. We are still only newly acquainted, but when the time is right, I shall have more to say. But depend on this, Miss Bennet—I shall not disappear unless I am banished, so you may rest assured that your future choices rest in your own hands.”
Jane looked up at this statement, which was similar to what Elizabeth had reported of her conversation with their uncle in London. It was a forthright statement of his intentions, and hearing such from another was different from hearing it declared by the person himself. She saw sincerity in Fitzwilliam’s eyes, and they looked at each other for several seconds before she had to look away.
Does he really mean it? she thought in confusion. Elizabeth and Uncle Gardiner were certain of it, and looking at him at this moment, I cannot disbelieve him. But do I dare hope for it? His attentions are pleasing, and he is certainly amiable, knowledgeable, and well mannered. But even if he means what he says about his constancy—that he will not disappear—is he the man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life? And suppose Mr. Bingley comes to Netherfield after all? What do I do then?
That question could not have a definitive answer at the present time—she needed to get to know this man better, and Mr. Bingley might never come—but she firmly told herself to stop worrying about the colonel’s sincerity. If the opinions of both her uncle Gardiner and her dear sister agreed with her own, then the matter was settled.
As my aunt told me several times in town, it is an unusual woman who is not disappointed in love at least once before settling on a husband. So I shall stop making myself sad and despondent about what IS NOT and simply enjoy what IS, and let the future take care of itself.
“That is much better,” Richard said lightly when Jane looked up with her usual cheerful smile. “Your face is made for smiles, not for frowns or worried looks.”
“If you say so, then it must be true,” she responded with equal lightness. “The same should also be said of my sister, but I do not think she is finding much enjoyment in her conversation.”
A graceful movement of her head indicated Darcy and Elizabeth, who sat together but appeared to be having difficulty making conversation.
“Ah, I see what you mean. But I suppose it is difficult to easily converse with the mistress of the house hovering like a mare watching her colt take his first awkward steps.”
Jane had to lower her head and bring her handkerchief to her lips to stifle her amusement because Richard had described the scene perfectly.
“Yes, you make a good point, sir. The atmosphere cannot be to the liking of either Mr. Darcy or Lizzy.”
“Nor, now that I think about it, is it especially pleasing to the two of us. But an experienced military man like me should be able to devise a tactical solution to this problem.”
“Ah. I shall watch with great curiosity.”
Richard’s teeth gleamed as he smiled broadly before turning towards the other couple.
“Darcy, old man,” he said in a carrying voice. “It is a glorious day, is it not? An excellent day for a walk, at which we know Miss Elizabeth excels. And Miss Bennet just mentioned that she and her sister had been considering shopping for some ribbon this afternoon. What do you say to walking out with them and taking advantage of this welcome sunshine?”
Richard’s suggestion met with rather more acclamation than he had intended since the glum looks fell from the faces of both Kitty and Lydia as they immediately jumped to their feet.
“Oh yes, a walk sounds wonderful. Let me get my shawl and bonnet,” cried Lydia.
“What a cheerful idea, Colonel Fitzwilliam,” added Kitty. “I shall be back directly.”
Lydia was immediately gone from the room with Kitty close on her heels, both of them mesmerized by the thought of monopolizing the attentions of this intriguing and aristocratic officer—once they had separated him from their dull elder sister, of course. That would be simplicity itself since Jane had never shown a single iota of interest in officers. What did she care for such an opportunity? And while he might not be as handsome as some, he was certainly impressive in stature with his red coat and his imposing helmet. And he was the son of an earl besides!
Their feet could be heard clattering on the stairs before Darcy had fully comprehended Richard’s unexpected suggestion.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes in mortification at such a commonplace but still embarrassing demonstration by her younger sisters. She was greatly pleased, however, at the opportunity to escape the overly attentive presence of her mother. Mrs. Bennet was not a walker, and she would definitely remain in the house. So, after a quick word with Darcy, Elizabeth also departed.
Jane, however, was still in her seat when Richard looked around, and she now looked at him with a considering expression on her face.
“It is the strangest thing, but I had not known I needed more ribbon,” she said calmly. “Was this an example of the tactics you were speaking of, sir?”
“Well, yes, but these were not as successful as some,” Richard said sheepishly, giving an exaggerated shrug. “But, no matter. At least it gets Darcy and your sister outside, and that was my main object—or at least one of my main objects. And, as you undoubtedly know, tactics are those moves taken for short-term advantage, and I am more interested in long-term strategic objectives.”
“Indeed,” Jane said quietly, rising to her feet. “Then I shall get my shawl and bonnet, Colonel Fitzwilliam.”
Though she spoke calmly, a pretty blush belied her calm demeanour.
By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.
I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.
I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife’s beloved Jane Austen books after her passing. One thing led to another, and I now have five novels published: A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019), and A Covenant of Marriage (2020). Four of my books are now audiobooks, Most Civil Proposal,Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets, Consequences, and A Covenant of Marriage.
I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats. My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).
Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Determination
Hello all and merry Christmas 🎄 Yes, I am back with the novella from Don Jacobson, a novella which also takes place in his amazing universe of the Bennet Wardrobe series. Can you believe there is another? And I promise once you finish this one, you’ll think “And I have to wait for the next one again?!” And the answer is sadly, yes 🙄😳😅 Book 8 is coming, or so Don promises!
DESCRIBTION;It is the Christmas season of 1836, and Fitzwilliam Darcy continues to suffer from the loss of his wife in April. But he is not alone. All who loved her, especially her daughter, Madelyn Anne Darcy, sense a yawning chasm in the center of their lives. Feeling the somber halls of Pemberley closing in, she escapes to Thornhill and her Aunt Jane’s calming influence.
However, the woods above this neighboring estate hold a life-altering surprise: another half-orphan—Thomas Johnson, an American from the Ohio River country—and his widowed mother, scarred by their own ineffable losses, are recovering at his Uncle Charles’s estate. A bit of snow and the need for a Yule log—along with the connivance of The Old One—conspire to bring the young people together.
Meanwhile, Caroline (née Bingley) Johnson is determined to face both the woman she hurt and the man she desired before fleeing to America twenty years earlier. Now, she begs for Jane Bingley’s Sixth Love grace whilst shaping herself to be the vessel into which her dearest friend’s soulmate can pour his grief.
Can Darcy learn the essentials as he moves forward to his destiny? In the process, can the two bereaved adversaries negotiate a space defined by their mutual love for Pemberley’s departed mistress?
This is an interim novella in the final volume of the Bennet Wardrobe Series.
“A Thornhill Christmas” by Don Jacobson
It was like returning to a group of old friends, as I started reading about the Darcy’s, Bingley’s, Johnson’s, Gardiner’s, Matlock’s and the rest of the tapestry of the Five Families.
This book opens months after beloved Elizabeth Darcy is lost, when her spirited daughter Madelyn makes a race for her aunt and Thornhill Estate and here the destiny yet again makes the decision of a love match between unsuspecting Thomas Johnson and Madelyn aka Maddie Darcy. I wonder if the wardrobe had a finger in the game yet again?
Thomas showed up to be the son of former Caroline Bingley, and her husband whom she met in America when she fled there after Jane and Elizabeth’s marriages. And this Christmas tide, Darcy and Caroline finds the way to realise that they both have lost their partners, loves and other part, but a friendship is grown, a most surprising friendship in my opinion, but it worked. The way Caroline has changed was quite literally a big surprise for me, but I was delighted with the change and so sad for her horrible loss.
But as Don noted to me, about Caroline and Mr. Darcy and their friendship; and I agree I would never think that Caroline and Darcy would ever unite in more than friendship and understanding of each other’s loss of their true partners.
Do not misunderstand the relationship between Mrs. Johnson and Mr. Darcy. Read this carefully and do not jump to such a non-canonical conclusion (although most would argue that the Wardrobe stories are Inspired By Austen…and not Fan Fiction seeking to replicate Austen).
Caroline Johnson says to Mr. Darcy:
“I am not seeking to replace my Thomas! And please disabuse yourself of the notion that my old maiden self is rearing her head. When a lady marks her half-century, she seeks the comfort of well-tended fires, fine brandies, and intelligent conversations.”
Finally, (and most important) Mr. Johnson “dies.” Bingley and Fitzwilliam “pass away.” Elizabeth Darcy “departs,” or “Leaves this world.”
The full HEA will appear in the last book of the Wardrobe series.
But this novella was a deep ocean of memories throughout the wardrobe series, with hints to several things, events
After the death of Charles Bingley later in the novella, and around twenty years after Elizabeth leaves this here and now, – Caroline, Jane and Lydia offer Darcy a very special concoction and “a thousand bees buzzed and the pressure built.”
I do believe Don is nearing the end of a longer story, because I want it badly! This ending is enough to drive any decent reader to distraction!And a detail I noticed was that, as I started to read I could almost hear it in the voice of talented Amanda Berry as the narrator.
A Special Note From Don Jacobson
Sooo….I feel like Elon Musk when I leave readers Easter eggs in my newest release, a novella: “A Thornhill Christmas.” Allow me to help you settle (as folks have been having coronaries for over four years after reading the Bennet Family Genealogy in the front of the Wardrobe books) and see what I am up to.
Before you jump to unfortunate conclusions…there are points you need to remember when reading this tale.
First, this is a Bennet Wardrobe story. Ask yourself ‘what has the Wardrobe been doing with the Bennets? Why have they been moving all over the timeline? What is the end goal of the Wardrobe in a Universe powered by love?’ Perhaps to preserve the greatest love story by bending space and time to its will? See the end of “The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion” for intimations of what is to come.
Second, this novella occurs off-camera inside of the eighth and final volume (still being written). I wrote it to understand how to get an evolved fifty-year-old Caroline (Bingley) Johnson back into the story. This now allows me to have a rationale for the action that will take place in Book Two.
Don has been so good as to allow us a peek into chapter 5, which is quite good and quite surprising as well. An old, not quite enemy but a character most of us have disliked for a while and Jane Bingley has quite an eye opening conversation.
Caroline (née Bingley) Johnson now aged 50 has retired to her chambers in the guest wing at Thornhill, the Bingley estate in Derbyshire. The family has already enjoyed the festive meal which she, along with the other mourner has gracefully endured. However, she is unable to bear company for any extended period. She is content to spend time alone but for her memories.
Mrs. Johnson stood unveiled before the world, if only in the privacy of her suite. The soft rap on her sitting-room door roused Caroline from her contemplation of the snowy field stretching away from the house. She thought that Thomas had sought her out to see whether he could offer her anything before returning to attend to the young lady who had engaged his heart. Bidding the supplicant to enter, she was surprised that t’was Jane who had chosen to inquire about her welfare. Her brother’s angel had floated without comment throughout Thornhill’s precincts in the days since the Johnsons arrived from Liverpool’s wharves. Caroline concluded that their strained politeness would carry on in quarter-century-old channels as it always had done.
Mrs. Bingley’s expression never changed. While her equanimity and serenity were legendary, Caroline was taken aback when Jane exhibited neither disgust nor pity upon observing the puckered scars defacing her countenance and her partially bald scalp. Her eyes burned as tears bejeweled her lashes as she understood that Jane considered the inner woman and not the vessel carrying the spirit.
Thus, the sincerity of her sister’s opening came as a complete surprise. “Caroline: come and let us sit.”
The two women moved to the wingback chairs adjacent to the fireplace in which a coal fire crackled and sizzled. Jane, as the supplicant, opened the conference. “’Tis been just shy of a fortnight since you came to us. We have had little opportunity to speak in private, but I would have you know that my door always has been open. T’would be my dearest wish that we could, in some small way, become comfortable with each other.
“We have lost so much in the past year: you even more than me. I would never suggest that you would find me a suitable surrogate for your Thomas any more than you would presume to replace…my…Lizzy. But perhaps we could listen to each other as we replay fond memories of our dearest ones?
“I worry that you are holding onto some emotion, some feeling—nothing to do with your husband but rather me—that ought to have died long ago. Can you not tell me what, beyond the obvious, is weighing upon your mind?”
However, Caroline was not yet ready to release her ancient chagrin at herself. “Oh, Mrs. Bingley, I fear I cannot. I have yet to forgive myself for my callous treatment of you and Charles. How can you so blithely release me from my obligation to expiate my sins?”
Jane Bingley resisted the urge to turn her power upon the shaken woman who had lapsed into a subdued silence, her hands clasped in her lap. Instead, she placed a small gilt box on the low table between them and pushed it toward Caroline.
“Two reasons,” she began—her sky-blue, near-purple Bennet Eyes boring into Caroline’s emerald orbs of a more regular shape.
“My loyalty to Lizzy could have pushed me to excuse Mr. Darcy, but that was not the case. Once I understood what drove him to separate Charles and me, I found it in my heart to absolve him. I promise you, t’was nothing you said that led him down that path. Instead, once I learned that he was my sister’s Mr. Darcy. She could not have loved him so well if he had not been worthy of it. That told me that, while his behavior was unworthy, his superior qualities far outweighed his bad.
“As I learned from Lydia, my mama had called this the Sixth Love…that which forgives. T’was a small step for me, even in the year twelve, to do with you what I did with Mr. Darcy. However, your fit of nerves on the morning of my wedding—Lizzy’s and mine—waylaid my wish to talk with you. Your continued fragile state as you recovered in Bath deferred my need because I feared I would cause more harm than good.
“At the time, Lizzy argued that I needed to explore my motives. Would I be granting forgiveness because of the awful penance you had performed—that of losing your senses—rather than truly letting bygones be bygones? You know my nature. Throughout those years and up to the day you left our house for America, I would have forgiven you because my continued antipathy would have only made your misery the greater.
“And that brings me to my second reason.” She pushed the box across the table. “Please take it. This is nothing but what you gave me. And I would hope you will receive it back in turn.”
Caroline bent toward the table and lifted the container’s lid. Her pause stretched into a long moment as she apprehended something that had been her announcement of her belief that, for healing to begin, ties needed to be severed. There in the cavity lay a folded note, its green wax seal broken.
Jane emphasized her next by pointing her chin at Caroline, urging, “Please read it. I shall depart if you wish it, although since t’was addressed to me, I can lay a claim to prior knowledge.”
Because Jane infrequently teased—neither she nor Charles owned a sarcastic bone between them—Caroline exhaled a chuckle and shook her head. She reached down and gently, with trembling fingers, lifted the object she had believed lost in the mists of time.
9 February 1817
My dear Mrs. Bingley:
I fear that I must address you in such a formal manner despite the fact that I have been living under your roof and by your sufferance for more than one year…and also despite the happy circumstance that your marriage to my brother led you to become my sister. However, I do not have the right, I am convinced, to aspire to that lofty title because of all the intentional harm I undertook to commit in the year before your happiest of days. And then, upon that day, I publicly disgraced myself with an unbecoming outburst that could only have detracted from the celebration of what I have learned to recognize as transcendent love: a felicity that I had endeavored deceitfully to prevent.
Of course—and this is not intended to justify any of my offenses—all that I did was shaped by the circumstances in which women of our class are forced to exist. Without property, without position, without rights over our own persons, and without prospects of maintaining or improving our lot, we must align ourselves with men who can offer us all of that. I was shaped and then broken by this stark conflict. Our brothers cannot comprehend what we must endure.
Over the past years of isolation, I have despaired of the manner in which the clay of my soul has been molded. Yet, I cannot plead mischance for I now realize that I made choices each step of the way. How? Because I saw the converse in the eldest Bennet sisters. You and Miss Elizabeth Bennet were not bent by the forces that drive our society. For you, Mrs. Bingley, the bright lights of the ton hold no great allure. Rather, it is the light in my dear brother’s eyes that helps you limn your life whether in town or Derbyshire. That painting, madam, is of love in its many forms.
Would that my own eyes could see such happiness in another’s visage!
So, Mrs. Bingley, this note is made of many layers. First, I humbly beg your forgiveness, but I also wish you to know that I seek to earn that solicitude that has defined my existence these past years.
That brings me to my second point.
I have resolved to leave England, to travel to make atonement, and perhaps, to seek that love which has so blessed you and so escaped me. My brother’s interests as well as those of DBE are found far and wide. If I am in extremis, I can avail myself of them. Charles has been managing my dowry over the time that I have been away. Please ask him to continue to do so and send any reports to me through corresponding offices in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. If necessary, I will apply to withdraw funds at one of these locations. This should give you some inkling of where I have decided to make my pilgrimage.
While you may think it unseemly for an unmarried woman to leave behind the cossetted protection of a wealthy brother, I must tell you that it is the only way I can become the woman worthy of you and my brother as well as Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. Of course, as I finished the last sentence, I realize that until I become a woman worthy of myself and unless I can search for a way to become the best version of Caroline Bingley, I shallforever be unworthy of all of your approbation. Failure to succeed in this quest is not shameful. Failure to try is. If I did not make the attempt, I should be satisfied to remain as your family’s acerbic biographer, Miss Austen—I met some of her acquaintances while I recovered in Bath—portrayed me.
I shall return only when I can once again peer into a looking glass and smile back at a face that is now so distasteful to all.
With kind regards to you and your good heart. Caroline Bingley
Jane had remained stock-still throughout the five minutes required for Caroline to read through the letter. “I never imagined you would be gone twenty years, Caroline.”
Caroline shook her head as if she could deny the truth. “Once I left town behind, I discovered the freedom I had never known. I met Thomas within days of arriving in Baltimore with the Adamses. All that I had prayed for in this,” she waved the laid bond before her, “came to me in the form of my own Mr. Bingley…Tom Johnson.
“Before I looked up, t’was 1826, I was a mother for eight years, and Mr. Adams was president. Another blink: I was a mother again to the sweetest child—my little Louisa Jane—and our farms were amongst Ohio’s greatest. At no time did I ever think that you had blessed me with your forgiveness. Mayhap I was fearful of asking lest you think me conniving and willful. Mrs. Darcy’s letters, though, were a comfort and allowed me to arrive at my own peace.”
She paused at a chasm that yawned beneath her toes. Jane jumped in. “Oh, Caroline, I forgave you the morning the maid discovered you gone and uncovered your letter. Upon reading it, I instantly knew that you were not the woman of Netherfield who would have resented being granted absolution while weak. The missive gave some clues that led us to search in the United States.
“By the time you wrote to us from Cincinnati—a good six months later—I feared that my words would offer little solace. Sensible Elizabeth understood that, while I was the cause of your shame, she had been the object of your envy. The most painful realization…and one that we are always ready to avoid…is that we are most often the cause of our own downfalls. ’Tis much easier to address a competitor.
“Elizabeth judged that you would be more likely to respond to her communication than to mine.”
Caroline nodded, a wistful look clouding her eyes, “And thus began our correspondence.”
She folded the letter, placed it in the box, and made to return it to Jane. Mrs. Bingley shook her head as she filled the room with waves of peace.
“No, Caroline,” she said softly, “your letter has done its work, and however late, you have returned as you promised. Now is the time for it to be given to its mistress, to its native home.
“And now I will make a demand of you, sister. You must call me ‘Jane’ lest I become seriously displeased. I will not be gainsaid!”
A smile, tentative at first, and then broader, added a pleasing aura to the black-clad figure of Caroline Johnson. She said with a degree of impertinence, “Then, Jane, I must presume upon your good nature and ask a favor. Would you entreat Mr. Darcy to come to my sitting room? It is long past time that he and I spoke. If you would add this: tell him that Mrs. Johnson believes that he and she have too much in common to allow ancient differences and untoward behaviors to suffer that which ought to be said to remain unsaid.
“Oh, if you wish to shock him, assuming he remains the same essential Mr. Darcy I recall, advise that I have a gift of the season, my greatest treasure, that I would bestow upon him. Soften it by suggesting that nobody would dare to suggest any degree of impropriety existed since we are both widows.”
Then she snorted, “If I recollect General Fitzwilliam’s history with widows of the ton, perhaps that would not be the best choice of words. Say instead that, since we both still are scrupulously mourning lost spouses, we are safe from any attempts at compromise.
“Oh, Jane, just tell him that with our children coming closer, we need to smooth over our past.”
UNIVERSAL BUY LINK;
So, if this has made you need this book, you need to search no longer; Here is the universal link;
Don Jacobson has written professionally since his post-collegiate days as a wire service reporter in Chicago. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. Earlier in his career, he published five books, all non-fiction.
He holds an advanced degree in History with specialties in Modern European History and the History of American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing. Don turned his passion for reading The Canon into writing #Austeesque Fiction. He has published thirteen works in the genre since late 2015. As a member of The Austen Authors Collective, Don joins (and he is modestly bowing his head to admit that he is the knave in this deck of Queens and Kings) other Janites who seek to extend the Mistress’ stories beyond the endings she so carefully crafted.
So, this will likely be the last post in 2020, but many more to come in the new year, so hang tight, and please check in, follow and return in the new year. Until then, stay safe, Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to all 🎄🎉 I will see you all next year, and thank you for following and reading along.
GIVEAWAY; Meryton Press will give away one eBook, so leave a comment to be entered.
Hello all, and Merry Christmas! 🎄🎁🎉 I am back to full power, I have passed my German course exam with flying colours 🎉🎉 Sadly I am going through quite a line of books for reviews in the next month or two, so I’ll be quite hung up. But this time around, I will welcome Noell and her book, “All that this entails” it’s a P&P sequel and personally I think it’s brilliant.
All That This Entails by Noell Cheney presents; Excerpt;
As the threesome made their way along the stream, they fell into a natural discussion of travel and the beauties of Derbyshire and Pemberley. Darcy found a like mind in Mrs Gardiner, who believed as he did in the superior merits of Derbyshire to any other county. The conversation flowed easily, and Darcy’s gratitude for Elizabeth swelled anew. To think of all the opportunities I may have missed due to my excessive reserve!
They stopped at a particularly lovely spot upon a simple bridge. The area was unadorned, and the valley contracted into a small glen, bordered by coppice-woods. It was a charming place.
“Elizabeth would love this spot,” Mrs Gardiner mused aloud.
Darcy visibly startled at this pronouncement. He had been thinking the same thought, though undoubtedly of a different Elizabeth.
“My niece Elizabeth is a great lover of nature and would have adored this view. She was to have accompanied us on this trip but is instead traveling to attend to some family business.” Mrs Gardiner paused and then said, “I believe you may be acquainted with her.”
Darcy could not contain his surprise. He started to speak, swallowed, and tentatively asked, “What is the lady’s name?”
“Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn in Hertfordshire,” said Mrs Gardiner. “I understand she met you last autumn when you stayed with Mr Bingley.”
“Yes, of course, and I saw her again in Kent when she visited her friend Mrs Collins.” Darcy could hardly believe his misfortune. Elizabeth could have been here at Pemberley! We might have been talking at this very moment!
It had been too long since he had last seen or talked with her—too long since he had heard her delightful laughter or crossed verbal swords with her wit. He realised it would have been an awkward meeting, but he believed he could endure anything if only he could look into her enchanting eyes and show her that he had addressed her reproofs.
“I am sorry not to be able to see Miss Bennet again. I have witnessed first-hand her love of walking and exploring. I often came across her during her rambles. I hope she will visit Derbyshire another time, for someone with such a passion for nature would almost certainly gain much enjoyment from this county.”
Mr Gardiner laughed. “Do not worry about Lizzy, Mr Darcy. I am sure that she is enjoying the wondrous countryside of Staffordshire just as much. After all, it is almost as far north as Derbyshire.”
I wrote Noell several weeks ago with questions about her lovely book, and she has graciously sent along her answers, since I couldn’t interview her in person or in other ways due to the world situation.
Hi Sophia. Thank you so much for hosting me and All This This Entails on Interests of a Jane Austen Girl. It’s an honor that you’re kicking off my very first blog tour.
How did you come up with the Idea for “All That This Entails”?
I have been a Jane Austen fan since I was a young woman and especially of Pride & Prejudice since watching the BBC miniseries (Colin Firth as Darcy? Swoon!). But I feel I found fanfiction a little late, not until the mid-2000’s. As I began to explore the world of Jane Austen fanfiction, I became fascinated by the different ways such a beloved story could be altered by a change in timeline, introduction of a new character or other interesting variations. There was a special fascination with the stories when Darcy and Elizabeth’s societal status was more equitable. When I finally decided to try my hand at writing a variation myself, this is the change I decided to explore. What would happen if Elizabeth not only rivalled Darcy in status and wealth, but actually surpassed him? When should that change take place, at the beginning or in another part of the storyline? These were interesting questions to determine, but I enjoyed delving into it and All That This Entails is the result!
Are we in for a drama of a book?
There is some drama, but nothing too angsty. I would say the majority of the major drama takes place in the last several chapters of the book. Not that the path for our heroine and hero is completely worry-free as there are interferences by some of our favorite villains as well as doubts that enter our hero’s heart.
Will Darcy and Elizabeth end up together? Especially now that Elizabeth is titled and wealthy?
I don’t think it spoils the ending too much by promising an eventual happy ending for Elizabeth and Darcy. Darcy has some issues to overcome, such as not seeming mercenary in his pursuit of Elizabeth now that her status has risen. He will also have to compete with other members of the ton, but I hope that these situations add fun to the story.
Will Darcy gather his courage and ask for Elizabeth’s hand once more, even after the hard blow of Hunsford?
I wouldn’t say Darcy necessarily lacks courage, but he will need to ascertain Elizabeth’s willingness to forgive him. And he will need to woo her properly this time!
Will this book become a series?
No, this book will not become a series. But I do have an idea for a different story that I have started to outline. But I can’t make any promises to a possible publication. All That This Entails was posted over the course of two or so years (ending in 2008), so I haven’t devoted any time to new writing since then as work, family & children have taken up my time!
Who is the unknown relation who Mr. Bennet inherits from?
All I will reveal is that the relation is a cousin that only Mr. Bennet was aware existed. He never informed his family of this connection due to a breach in a preceding generation. I think you’ll genuinely like the character who becomes known to the Bennets through this revelation.
Thank you, Noell for answering my pert questions about your new book, and welcome into the wondrous world of JAFF. I look forward to hosting you again in the future.
Hello all! Yes, I am back somehow, but again I am only presenting a book from one of my favourite authors, who I discovered last year with her book III about Georgiana Darcy. This time Sue Barr has written a book which has everything, I swear; love, magic, mystery, a fantastic plot and of course also drama beyond measure! And besides there’s a giveaway!
She’s the outcast in her family.
Elizabeth knows she’s different from the rest of her family. She has visions and strange dreams and sees things others do not. With the advent of the odious Mr Darcy, and his friends from Netherfield Park. As well, as the amiable Mr Wickham of the shire Militia. Her powers seem to increase, and her greatest fear is that she won’t be able to contain them, and will be discovered.
He has eight hundred years of tradition to uphold.
No Darcy has married a non-magical woman since arriving on the shores of England with William the Conqueror in 1066. However, his kind – Miatharans – are dwindling in numbers. Miatharan magic only flows through aristocratic bloodlines, so his strange obsession with Miss Elizabeth Bennet is puzzling as she is not of noble blood. Just a country squire’s beautiful daughter who has him slowly becoming undone.
Let me hint that magic and royalty, and fascinating history is behind this plot, and I can only say the book is very, very good!
Review of the book;
As I opened the book, I was ready to be either fascinated or hating the book, but after a few pages, I loved the book and loved how Elizabeth discovered the issue of magic in her family line! I also loved to read as Darcy is falling in love with Elizabeth! Wow, what a drama, and it was so good to read his feelings – though something which surprised me was the history of the Darcy’s.
What would Pride & Prejudice be like if Darcy and Elizabeth had a touch of magic in their lives?
I wanted to show the bond between Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, extended beyond familial boundaries. In this scene we reveal an aspect of Darcy which can explain a lot of his deeply held arrogance. It’s part of the history of his kind and shows what his family gave up in order to acclimate to human life in England when they came over in 1066 with William the Conqueror.
It took another forty-five minutes before they were finally crossing the verdant fields which surrounded Netherfield Park. Although a bit run down from lack of a proper master, the estate held much promise and Darcy did the best he could in such a short amount of time to educate Bingley on what he needed to run such an enterprise. Away from the alluring pull of both Miss Bennet’s the men enjoyed their day and he was reminded of how good Bingley was when it came to management of time and people. Beneath his open and congenial veneer lay an astute business man. He quickly grasped what was needed to make Netherfield prosper and before the day was out had offered a few suggestions of his own to increase profitability from some of the fields and tenant farms. If only he applied these sentiments toward his sister, Darcy thought more than once.
The sun had begun its final descent, throwing shades of red and pink onto the horizon when they and their weary horses cantered up to the stable. He brushed down his faithful stallion and agreed to meet Charles in the parlor before dining. He’d no sooner entered his bed chamber than Richard strode in from the valet’s room.
“Good, you’re back. I was beginning to worry you’d never come home.”
“This is not home.”
“Don’t be daft, it was a figure of speech. I waited because I know you’re interested in our mutual friend, Wickham.”
“Never say he is my friend. Wickham and friend should never be thrown together in a sentence, unless you are teaching someone about opposites, like black and white, or love and hate.”
“Fine. How about mutual acquaintance?”
“No.” Darcy tugged at his cravat and threw it onto his dresser. “Move along Richard, I’m in no mood for any humor.”“What’s new with that?” At his glare, Richard lifted his hands as though in surrender. “Okay, okay. No more. I hate him as much as you.”
“I doubt that.”
“Nay, Darcy.” Richard laid a hand on his forearm and gripped tight. “I love Georgiana as a sister and my anger runs deep and fast. I only manage it better than you as I’ve had years of practice on the battlefield.”
Darcy looked deep into his cousin’s eyes and saw truth. He gripped Richard’s forearms as their ancestors used to do when they pledged fealty. “I’m grateful you are in this with me. We will vanquish Wickham and rid England of this scourge.”
“Your wish is my command. I stand behind, I stand before, I stand with. My life for yours.” Richard said the old words with much solemnity. “You are my liege and I pledge to follow.”
Darcy covered the hand Richard gripped his forearm with and squeezed. “I am no longer royalty, Richard. We gave that up when our ancestor D’Arcy came over with William from Normandy and he ascended to the throne, but I appreciate the sentiment.”
“Be that as it may, I stand by my pledge.”
They released their grips and moved apart.
See what I mean? Well, the drama continued, especially as Elizabeth learns more of her abilities with her magic, and how the couple find each other… and I promise, there will be LOTS and LOTS of drama! And as always Wickham makes a nuissance of himself, and Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam have to deal with the scoundrel.
And of course, Sue also leaves us with a happy ending!
About the Author:
‘The prairie dust is in my blood but no longer on my shoes.’
Although it’s been over forty-two years since Sue called Saskatchewan home, her roots to that straight-lined province and childhood friends run deep. The only thing strong enough to entice her to pack up and leave was love. When a handsome Air Force pilot met this small-town girl, he swept her off her feet and they embarked on a fantastic adventure which found them settled in beautiful Southwestern Ontario when hubby retired from the military and began his second career as an airline pilot.
Sue started writing in 2009 and sold her first manuscript in 2010. Always a reader of Regency romance, she discovered Jane Austen Fan Fiction in 2014 and almost immediately wanted to know – Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and Mr. Darcy became engaged to a Bennet sister? From that question, her first JAFF book was launched.
In her spare time, Sue cans and preserves her own food, cooks almost everything from scratch and grows herbs to dehydrate. Her latest venture is to create her own spice seasonings, experiment with artisan breads and make her own homemade vanilla. Hubby has no complaints other than his jeans keep shrinking. At least that’s what he claims…. Her sons, their wives and all seven grandchildren don’t mind this slight obsession either.
*Sue Barr will giveaway an ebook of this latest novel to 3 random winners for entire blog tour. Follow the tour and join in the comments to be entered to win. Sue will choose the random winners and announce the winners on social media on December 5.
Hello All, wow its November already! And I am only three weeks from my German Exam! Yikes!
But now I will present our new author, namely Jennifer Duke, the author of a JAFF novel, “Back to the Bonnet.” And I promise several reviews are coming in December and in the New Year, so please wait patiently dear readers.
Jennifer Duke grew up in Basingstoke – a town in Hampshire, England, which Jane Austen visited for shopping and balls when her family lived in the nearby village of Steventon. Loving stories from a very early age and being the second of four sisters, Jennifer delighted in reading stories to her younger siblings.
She went to Bath Spa University to study English Literature with Creative Writing and have gained a 2:1, later going on to achieve a distinction for her MA in English Literature at Oxford Brookes University.
She has had many jobs – including coffee barista, trainee English teacher, nursery nurse, nanny, housekeeper and dog walker – but kept returning to writing fiction. A longstanding love of Miss Jane Austen’s novels led to her first published novel Back to the Bonnet.
As well as writing, she is interested in mindfulness, environmental issues and painting. She loves animals, history, art, travel and being out in nature. Currently, she is working on a fantasy novel inspired by ancient art at Chauvet-Pont D’Arc cave in the south of France. It is a story set 35,000 years ago – a slight change from Regency England! She also has plans to write a post-world war two romance inspired by Jane Eyre.
Back to the Bonnet is available now on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook formats!
What if Mary Bennet was actually behind the important events of Pride and Prejudice? In Back to the Bonnet, Jennifer Duke explores how the story could look from the unique perspective of plain, overlooked but clever Mary who happens to have inherited a bonnet that allows her to travel in time.
Mary Bennet takes matters into her own hands in this hilarious and enjoyable time-travelling version of Pride and Prejudice.
CRESSIDA DOWNING – THE BOOK ANALYST
“Oh really, Miss Mary!” He lowered his voice and leant closer. “Does convention hold you back? You who deny all conventions of the time, twisting it from its proper course?”
Matrimony is not a destiny that attracts the plain but clever Miss Mary Bennet.
With her family’s fortunes threatened by their own foolish mistakes, deceptive rogues and the inconvenience of male heirs to her family home, the future looks unstable, even bleak. But Mary possesses a secret weapon… a bonnet that allows her to travel in time.
In orchestrating events according to her own inclinations, Mary takes an unconventional route to protect her family from ruin. However, she is unprepared for the dark path down which duty and power will lead her.
“In my opinion, it sounds like a wonderful book, and can’t wait to read this book!” – Sophia Thorsen, Interestsofajaneaustengirl.
Excerpt from Volume One, Chapter Four – ‘The Ghost of Netherfield Park’
As I neared Meryton, the wind whipped my drenched cloak and the fields around me darkened as clouds billowed above. I picked up my pace, the graveyard before me a miniature landscape painting framed by my hood. My vision thus restricted, I did not see the newly dug grave. My first knowledge of it was the lack of ground beneath my feet and the cry of alarm which escaped my lips. As I tumbled into the stony earth, pain burst at the back of my head.
An owl hooted. I woke with a gasp. All was dark. I couldn’t feel my fingers. Rain battered my face, making it difficult to keep my eyes open, not that there was much to see. Once I had recollected where I was and why I was there and reasoned that the pain in my head must have been the result of my fall and the cause of a period of unconsciousness, I groaned and punched the wall of the earth at my side. Mr Thorpe was likely already at Netherfield and I had no bonnet to go back in time with.
As I pushed myself up, one hand slipped through mud and knocked against a stone. My fingers found two round holes in it, beneath which was a smaller hole with a narrow top. I laughed. “How wonderful!” I said when I realised that it was not a stone at all but a human skull.
The clouds must have parted, for now, the skull was illuminated with cold light as I held it in both hands. Sitting there in the grave, feeling rather like a more rational and hopeful Hamlet, I contemplated my situation. Nature had blessed me with a storm and a full moon and the gravediggers of Meryton had provided me with a skull. Perhaps I was not too late to haunt Netherfield after all, I thought, adding the skull to my bag, even though I did not yet know exactly how I was to use it.
With much more physical excursion than I believe I have ever been required to use before, I dug my fingers into the earth, pushing with my feet, crawling inch after rain-sodden inch until I reached the land of the living. I tasted mud.
“This had better be worth it.”
Plastered in the dirt, I pressed on through the rain, determined not to waste this opportunity to ‘shoo’ Mr Thorpe out of Netherfield and provide the opportunity for someone better to move in. However, as I wound my way up the long drive to the great house, shivering and staggering under a wave of dizziness, I felt inclined to abandon my plan and simply seek shelter from the elements. I began to circle the building, hoping that Mr Thorpe had managed to light a fire somewhere. A flash of lightning revealed a large drawing room, white dust sheets over the furniture and, upon a sofa, a man lying asleep. A crack of thunder must have made him jump, for I heard something fall.
I knocked at the window. “Let me in!” I cried but he seemed not to hear me. Then I had an idea which caused my lips to curl even as my teeth chattered. Untying my cloak, I lifted the fastening above my head, hiding my face, and held the skull above me, the hood draped over the top of it. I peeked through my cloak – though it was too dark to see anything – and knocked again, louder than before.
“Who’s there?” called Mr Thorpe, his voice just carrying through the window. “Shew yourself, d— it!”
Then, answering all my present hopes, a great flash of sheet lightning blasted the darkness from the sky. Mr Thorpe’s face was a picture of unadulterated terror. No sooner had he seen the skeleton ghost at the window than he fell, whether stumbling in fear or fainting, I could not tell, and as he fell, there was a smack. I gasped, fearing he had hit his head on a side table as he went down. I hadn’t thought I could feel any colder in summer than I had felt standing in the wind and rain but a chill pierced through my heart making me shudder violently. The room was silent and still.
Had I just killed Mr Thorpe?
You are cordially invited to sign up to Jennifer Duke’s newsletter via her website homepage or contact page.
She staggered a great man. He was reeling. She was overwhelmed.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, standing irritably at the edge of the Meryton assembly, declines to dance with Elizabeth Bennet. In a mood of revulsion, he rejects her without concern of being overheard. Country pretensions are always in need of squashing, and what better way to make clear he would not partner anyone outside his party? However, when he looks over at her, she does not appear humbled at all. She is secretly laughing at him!
Elizabeth is perversely delighted to encounter such an outrageous snob as Mr. Darcy. When he approaches her with a stiff, graceless apology, she coolly brushes him off, believing that, like most annoyances, he will go away when properly snubbed. But no! The man then puts out his hand and, not wishing to create a scene, compels her to stand up with him.
They go through the steps of the dance mutually disdainful and intent upon wounding each other. But by the time the musicians end their tune, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have traded barbs with such accuracy, they are unaccountably amused and engaged. Will this most inconvenient flirtation drive them apart—or, like silver buckles, are they a matched pair?
Definitely a matched pair, in my limited opinion! hehe I can definitely promise that this book will make one laugh at their absurd trading of barbs, sigh at their obliviousness, and of course shake ones head at Darcy’s obtuse notion of Elizabeth, her family and neighbours, poor clueless fool! But it is definitely worth the read! But then again, Elizabeth is not a bit better, and is also quite blinded by her prejudice of this arrogant Darcy, but I do promise a happy ending… at some point at least *wink*
Interests of a Jane Austen Girl – 10/20/2020
Thank you so much for having me Sophia, and best of luck with your studies!
I suppose everyone looks at the world through a particular kind of lens. I’ve always been fascinated by all things psychological. I look through the peculiar magnifying glass of the closet analyst with my imaginary mustache ‘atwitch’ and my monocle causing one eye to look unnaturally large. That said, even my writing—especially my writing—is a sort of amateur sleuthing into the underground realms of the subconscious and how it pulls the strings on our everyday life.
In Silver Buckles, Darcy and Elizabeth begin their story with a sparky flirtation and quite a bit of plain speaking. Yet under the surface lies a secondary story about basic human insecurity. This subconscious theme circles around self-worth and an unwillingness to show weakness which must be overcome in order to love and be loved.
In this variation, the underground drama is played out in Elizabeth’s private inner thoughts. Throughout the story, she continues to examine and become aware of her feelings of insecurity, as in this scene, told in Elizabeth’s first-person point of view, where she becomes aware that Mr. Darcy is staggeringly wealthy. In a bit of a twist, she is the one who feels that a match with Mr. Darcy is out of the question.
Mr. Darcy has offered to take Elizabeth and Mary from Kent to London, and we find them at a posting house on the road from Kent to London.
The gentlemen fell to talking about the road and of our progress, and wishing to stretch my legs, I stood and went to the window. Miss Darcy asked after her wheeler, and the three then spoke of the merits of the teams.
Not having put much thought into our horses, I was surprised to learn the gentleman kept two teams on this road, for we would change again in Bromley. Gazing out the window, I stood in wonder at the depth of Mr. Darcy’s fortune. We travelled in three carriages, so twelve fresh horses would be required twice over. And this was nothing to the hospitality of the house, not only for the six of us but also for his retainers that numbered nine together.
In a distracted and slightly discomposed state, I stared down at the street and wished I did not harbor such a fatal, irreversible fascination for an ineligible man. Only vaguely did I hear Colonel Fitzwilliam offer to take Mary for a little walk, and I positively jumped when Mr. Darcy spoke to me directly.
“I would have sworn that when we entered this room your eyes were all sparkles.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, turning back to the room in bewilderment. Mr. Darcy stood, arms crossed, with one shoulder against the wall as he examined me; belatedly, I realized we were alone.
“I would know what troubles you,” he said bluntly.
“What makes you believe I am troubled?” This sort of diversionary feint I had learnt from Papa.
“You have stood at that window in deep, dark thought for five full minutes. While that is one of my favorite pastimes, I do not believe it very like you to brood. What troubles you?”
I am in love with you, I thought. But aloud, I said, “I have been thinking of horses.”
“Yes, horses. How many do you have on this road—twenty-four?”
“Twenty-four horses? Of what are you talking?” He was speaking to me in that way I love—sharp, impatient and devoid of condescension.
“You have three carriages.”
“Oh. The service coach uses job horses. I suppose that is somehow a form of snobbery in your estimation. But in fact, I have eight horses on this road when I travel to Kent. My sister’s coachman necessarily sent along two strings as well for her when she left London. They are collected and either stabled in London or placed on the road north when I go to Pemberley.” He paused as if debating before he hardened his jaw. “I have three more teams from Pemberley that, along with this string, I put at coaching inns along that route. I have eight horses for riding in London and my estate. My sister has half a dozen, and we stable a strong team for estate work as well as our elderly stock in pasture. There are fifty-odd all totaled in my stables, and now you know the whole of it.”
He stood and spoke as one who dared me to despise him for his honest confession, and when I did not reply, he raised his eyebrows and made an impatient motion with his head demanding I explain my objection to the size of his stable.
Elizabeth isn’t the first woman to be daunted by even the faintest prospect of good fortune. Why is it a particularly female trait to mistrust the same fairy-tale endings we so crave to read about?
I hope you enjoy reading Silver Buckles as much as I enjoyed writing it.